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EDA/IP  

A unifying open-source EDA database remains a dream

Posted: 01 Apr 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:design automation  tool interoperability  EDA  OA  database 

Rise of Open Access
Then, Cadence contributed its Genesis database to the growing effort among the user community to create an open database standard. Genesis eventually became the Open Access database (OA) with Cadence retaining control of the source code. The OA concept was birthed during a period of great excitement over the business prospects of "open source" code development and distribution as a way to deliver a product. This new model had captivated some entrepreneurs and investors and was a darling of the dot-com boom of the '90s.

Cadence turned distribution of their database over to the Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) consortium. While OA has brought some standardisation benefits, it has also remained problematic. The status today is that everyone who consumes EDA tools knows what OA is, but worldwide adoption of OA as a centralized platform has not materialized. And even though OA source code is available to all members of Si2, a true open-source model for OA has never been implemented. Perhaps to avoid the resource-consuming chaos they might endure if the entire industry was indeed opened up to modify the OA source, Cadence has kept a tight control on the OA source code, thereby guaranteeing a high degree of stability and conformity while retaining control over what is the company's intellectual property. Therein lays the problem. OA is called an "open standard" capability but code ownership rights are somewhat fuzzily maintained by Si2 and Cadence—definitely not publicly owned.

That said, OA is available and it is stable and self-consistent. OA has provided a good underlying data control and storage mechanism for Cadence tool users and for the creators of a certain class of EDA tools. However, OA has serious limitations. It is not suitable for multi-threaded or distributed, concurrent EDA applications; thus, it may be of increasingly limited usefulness as the next generation of EDA tools evolve to take advantage of these modern architectures.

Limitations
Can OA overcome its limitations and become an extensible, high-performance, multi-threaded truly open standard with the source code owned and controlled by the industry rather than one company? Without this, many EDA vendors view moving to it natively as a risky proposition. After all, would you want the very foundation of your product to be controlled by a company that is in some, or all respects, your competitor?


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